Alesso Talks Debut LP ‘Forever,’ Sampling Kylie Minogue & Touring With Madonna: Idolator Q&A
Alesso has been at the forefront of international dance music since releasing his first floorfiller back in 2012, but crossed over to pop radio last year with relentlessly catchy anthem “Heroes (We Could Be).” The Tove Lo-voiced banger peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was ultimately certified platinum. The Swede is now hoping to repeat the feat with Kylie Minogue-sampling single “Cool.”
Both tracks — and most of his club hits — are featured on debut LP Forever, which dropped yesterday (May 26). I recently spoke with Alesso about the opus and he revealed (among other things) that he didn’t intend to sample David Bowie on “Heroes (We Could Be)”. The 23-year-old also opened up about finding the right balance between dance and pop, and working with singer/songwriter Ryan Tedder. Find out more below.
How did you find the right balance between club music and pop on Forever?
I don’t know, I’m just trying to make music that I like and have some sort of vision with every song really. Some are meant to be radio and some are not really you know. You get a sense of knowing what would work on the radio and what would not.
Does that happen early in the process?
Yeah, I mean it’s different but after a while you can know. Like I already know before finishing the song.
How do you know if it’s going to be a great for radio?
I guess when it’s very catchy and easy to get and it’s got something that appeals to everyone even if you’re not dance music lover.
That definitely applies to “Heroes (We Could Be).” Who came up with the idea of the David Bowie?
It was not an inspiration. It wasn’t. When me and Tove Lo were making that song we didn’t think that it was going to be… have a similarity to the David Bowie song. It just kind of happened. We didn’t want to you step on anyone’s feet.
It was a total coincidence?
It was a coincidence. Hand on the heart! 100 percent truly it was just a coincidence and like I said we didn’t want to step on anyone’s feet and create something that someone like David Bowie or Brian Eno felt like, “Oh you ripped us off!” or anything like that so we just cleared [the sample] to make sure that they’re good with it.
Does that happen often?
Oh no, it was the first time really. I didn’t think it sounded that similar really. It’s a different melody and everything but you know … Better safe than sorry.
What was it like working with Tove Lo?
She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with really. She’s a rising superstar and she’s a great person as well and we had a lot of fun in the studio. It was just good times really. It was never like, “Oh what should we do” — everything just happened naturally. It was very organic the whole process.
Why did you decide to sample Kylie Minogue’s “Get Outta My Way” on “Cool”?
That was an intentional sample, that I wanted. I had the idea with Roy English and we wrote the top line. I always loved that song and I think it never got as big as I think it deserved and I just loved the idea and I never sample so I felt like, you know, why not try it this time?
It’s such an underrated song. What do you find so appealing about it?
It was just the core progression really. That piano in the beginning. I wanted to show people that I could sample, but it was like a big sample. I didn’t try to hide it or anything, so that’s how it came about.
You’ve made several songs with Ryan Tedder and OneRepublic. How did you develop that relationship?
It just kind of happened naturally really. It started off obviously with “Calling (Lose My Mind)” and the remix. We spoke a lot and I said, “You know I have this idea I think you could do one hell of a job on it” and he loved it and we started making “Scars.” I had this track, it wasn’t finished or anything. I wanted it to be something about how hard love can be sometimes and then he came up with it. He said, “the track is happy I want it to sound… I want the lyrics to be kind of the opposite.”
You’ve released so many singles. Why has it taken so long to release an album?
I don’t know, I never thought of making an album this soon. I just thought well I’ll make one one day. In this time we’re in now, an album isn’t the same thing as it used to be. People are more just focusing on singles, but I just felt… why not? Why not put out an album, what’s the worst thing that could happen? The best thing about it is that I get to show a little bit more of what I like to produce and who I am as an artist.
Do you have a favorite song on there?
No. I like all of them differently.
Are you working on music for anyone else at the moment?
Yes, but I can’t really discuss that or talk about it because, yeah you know how the music industry is. Sometimes you need to keep things to yourself.
Fair enough. I saw that you’re the new face of Carolina Herrera’s 212 VIP fragrance.
It was just a request. They asked me if I was interested in doing this campaign with Carolina Herrera and the new fragrance and they presented me with the idea and how it was going to look and what they represent and stuff like that and I liked it. I’ve never done anything like that before and it just felt really cool.
What do you remember about opening for Madonna on her MDNA tour?
It was just a cool thing really. It was early in my career and I had never done anything like that and it was just really cool to see how she works and how close she is to all of her dancers and the people that makes her show. It was just a really cool experience.
Did you get to have any personal interaction with her?
I met her and I spoke to her and stuff like that but she’s also on a busy schedule so there wasn’t really time you know to hang out really.
Thank you. Congratulations again on the album!
Thank you so much man.
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